This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
BP Solar Drops Thin-Film Products to Focus on Crystalline Silicon
BP Solar announced on November 21st that it is halting production of its thin-film solar products in favor of its more traditional solar cell technologies based on crystalline silicon. BP Solar will stop thin-film manufacturing at the company's Fairfield, California, facility and convert it into a warehouse, distribution center, and the base for the company's West Coast sales and marketing efforts. The company will also close its Toana, Virginia, manufacturing plant if a buyer cannot be found by the end of this year, and an associated technology center will close immediately. If both plants close, 260 workers will lose their jobs.
BP Solar cited a lack of demand and unfavorable economics as its reasons for retreating from thin-film technologies, although the company expects to continue growing its sales at 30 percent per year through expansion of its crystalline silicon market. Crystalline silicon currently represents more than 85 percent of BP Solar's global production capacity for solar products. To grow its business, the company plans to launch a new sales and marketing initiative in California in January 2003. See the BP Solar press release.
Ironically, BP was one of four organizations honored with the 2002 Awards for Solar Business Achievement in mid-November. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) bestowed the honor on BP Solar in part because it "continues to seek out innovative uses for photovoltaics," including the use of its thin-film solar panels on many of its service stations. SEPA also presented awards to Commonwealth Edison, the City of Palo Alto Utilities, and the partnership between Tucson Electric Power and the City of Tucson. See the SEPA press release.